|DECEMBER 1997||PUBLISHED BY AMERICANS FOR A SAFE ISRAEL|
The Iraq crisis is over--at least for the moment--and it has ended in victory for Saddam Hussein.
Saddam's victory is threefold. First, the American members of the U.N. inspection team have returned, but the inspectors still have no access to Saddam's secret weapons production and storage sites. Second, Saddam's threats produced immediate American offers to relax some of the international sanctions against it. Third, and most troubling, is that the Clinton administration has intensified pressure on Israel to make new concessions to the PLO, in order to entice other Arabs to oppose Iraq.
Ironically, when Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992, he strongly criticized the Bush administration's policy toward Israel, including the policy of forging an Arab coalition against Iraq by pressuring Israel to make concessions to the Arabs. Now the Clinton administration is doing exactly what George Bush and James Baker did, sacrificing Israel's security in order to obtain token Arab support against Saddam.
Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk, in his speech at the Middle East Insight Conference in Washington on November 12, laid out the U.S. theory in brutally frank terms: "There is indeed a symbiotic link between what happens in the peace process and what happens in the Gulf...The more progress we could make in the peace process, the more effective we would be in containing the threats from Iraq and Iran." In the minds of Indyk and his State Department colleagues, Israel is ultimately the cause of every conflict in the Mideast, and pressuring Israel to make dangerous, one-sided concessions to the PLO is the ultimate solution.
Sadly, the Israeli government has surrendered to U.S. pressure in record time. When Prime Minister Netanyahu met Secretary of State Albright in London, he reiterated Israel's earlier offer to give another 3% of Judea-Samaria to the PLO--even though the PLO still hasn't honored any of its Oslo commitments. A few days later, Clinton refused to meet Netanyahu during the latter's visit to the U.S., and the New York Times reported that the snub was the administration's way of demanding
a bigger Israeli withdrawal. Within 24 hours, Israel's offer had increased to "3 to 5%." A day later, it was up to "6 to 8%." It is likely to continue rising. Instead of standing up for Israel's security interests, and appealing directly to Congressional and American public opinion for understanding, Netanyahu has opted for the easy way out--the easy way that will make everything more difficult later on. An Israeli withdrawal will not bring peace; it will only whet the Arabs' appetite for more. When Israel finally gets to the point that it must say "no" --over Jerusalem, or refugees, or some other make-or-break issue-- it will be strategically more vulnerable, and it will still not have satisfied the Clinton administration.
Nor is it a coincidence that the administration has suddenly dropped Syria from its list of countries that produce and distribute illegal drugs. The issue for the administration is not whether Syria has really stopped dealing in drugs --the evidence is far from persuasive-- but how to appease Damascus so that Hafez Assad will be part of an American "coalition" against Iraq.
But the entire premise of such a "coalition" is flawed. The Arab states are violating the anti-Iraq sanctions and denouncing American "interference" in the region. And why not? They understand the significance of America's failure to finish the job of destroying Saddam in 1991. And they saw that there were no serious consequences for those Arab regimes that renewed their friendship with Iraq as soon as the war was over.
Both America and Israel paid a price for what happened in the Gulf War. American credibility was eroded by the U.S. failure to eliminate Saddam. But
(Continued on p.12)
December 1997 - 1 - Outpost